Tag Archives: Religion

FF – Seeing God

Melanie is far and away my favourite character to write, so when she popped into my head with today’s FF photo after a long absence, I had to find time to record her thoughts and share them with you. My story begins below the prompt picture and I welcome all feedback.  If you enjoy Melanie even half as much as I do, click on her tag below, which will take you to some of her other musings.

Today’s prompt is from our esteemed leader, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. I’ve been watching a BBC documentary on Auschwitz recently and have been staggered, not for the first time, by the cheer incomprehensibility of what happened there, and elsewhere in Europe little under a century ago. Rochelle’s brand of historical fiction, set during another period of anti-semitic mass murder, is the kind of writing that I believe we need to turn shocking but incomprehensible statistics back into real emotions. I don’t think I’m the only person who finds it easier to feel for one person than for a million. Her novels are available on Amazon. I haven’t read them yet, but if they are anything like her short stories, they will make the reader do just that.

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Seeing God

I see God sometimes. Not actually, because that’s only when you’re dead. And not like a burning bush or something… he doesn’t talk. And when I talk, it’s like he’s listening but he doesn’t answer, like Daddy watching the rugby and if I talk about something, he says “Yes, I’m listening,” but he doesn’t actually talk back about the thing.

Seeing God is like a big light in the sky, brighter than the sun. So bright you can’t see it, but it strokes things on the ground like fingers and you want to touch them, but they’re never quite there.

 

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Friday Fiction – An Old One

Back home after our flying visit to the UK, but with a long list of things to do and a lovely-but-extra-challenging toddler, I’m going to take advantage of Rochelle‘s invitation to report my previous story for her repeated prompt. It took a while for me to remember what I’d written about for this one, but when I went back (August 2012) and read it, I was actually more pleased with it than I thought I’d been. Do tell me what you think!

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Sin

Alice felt Liam’s hand on her bra. She didn’t dare look down, but she couldn’t look at his face either.  She wanted so much to enjoy this, but she’d heard too many stories about how easy – and how terrible – it was to get pregnant. Her gaze flicked away to the forest that was keeping them safe from prying eyes.

But God could see them.

As Liam’s fingers touched her skin, she screamed. High in one of the trees, a single eye stared out of a sheep’s bleached skull. The animal was dead, but the eye watched – omniscient, eternal and judgmental.

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In Mon – Talk to Strangers

What a fantastic crop of InMon prompts this week. I want to use them all … but not in the same story. However, Melanie’s been playing in my head again, so she’s taken the front slot and here’s another snippet from her. And I’ve ended up nodding to two of the prompts.

If you’d like to see more, search “Melanie” to see other parts of her story, although this scene is intended to stand alone.

* * *

Daddy’s instructions had been very clear: “Take Mummy’s prescription to the counter, get the pills from the Pharmacist, pay, leave. Don’t get waylaid.” But Melanie liked getting waylaid; there was always so much to see and do when you got waylaid. And sometimes you got waylaid without meaning to. Like today, in the pharmacy, there was an old lady waiting in the next seat. And Melanie wasn’t really getting waylaid, because she was waiting for the Pharmacist to get Mummy’s pills ready.

“You’re a bit little to be here alone,” said the old woman. “Where’s your Mum?”

“At home,” Mel said, wondering if it was OK to talk to strangers if they were at the pharmacy.

The old woman looked kind, like Mrs Mwanna, only not black. She put her handkerchief in front of her eyes to blow her nose. “You came by yourself?” said the voice behind the handkerchief.

“No. Daddy’s waiting outside, only he couldn’t come in because he’s on the phone.”

“Ah.” The lady came out from behind her mask again. “That’s the problem with these mobile phones. Everyone is always on them. No time for anything.”

Melanie nodded and looked up at the pharmacists’ heads, bobbing behind their high screen. She wondered how long the medicine was going to be, because she was nearly late for school and she didn’t want to have to go and see the Head again to explain.

“They take their own time,” the old lady said, reading her mind like Mrs Mwanna could do. “I’ve been waiting for twenty minutes.”

Melanie wondered how long she’d been waiting. Not twenty minutes, because the old lady had got here first, but it felt like forever.

“Do you go to St Bartholomew’s?” the lady said.

“Yes,” Melanie replied. And then she thought about it and wondered if the lady meant the church, which she did go to, or the school, which she didn’t because she was a big girl now and went to the big school, but it was too late to ask, because she had already answered.

The lady tutted. “I thought they had a uniform. I don’t go in for this modern idea of no uniform days. Supposed to be for charity, but it looks very scruffy and you can’t tell one child from another. In my day you knew exactly what to expect just by looking at the child.”

Melanie tried to count the bottles of Calcium tablets on the shelf beside her, but the numbers kept getting themselves confused whenever she listened to the old lady. She wondered whether to explain about the church and the school, but it wouldn’t really help, because her school did have a uniform and it wasn’t non-uniform day, her uniform was just in the wash because she’d forgotten to put the load through and Mummy had said she’d do it yesterday but then hadn’t been able to get out of bed, and so Daddy had said never mind he would write the Head a note. Only, thinking about it, Melanie remembered that he hadn’t given her a note and she would have to ask him when she got back to the car.

“I suppose you go to the church there as well?” the old lady said.

Melanie nodded.

The old lady tutted again. “Not my cup of tea,” she muttered. “I prefer a more shall we say enlightened communicant, if you know what I mean?”

Melanie nodded, although she didn’t.

“A little bit more forgive us our trespasses and a little bit less mine be the kingdom.”

“Ms Santori?” The lady pharmacist’s head appeared from behind the screen and the old lady stood up.

“Well, that’s me. At last,” she sighed. “You watch out for that priest of yours,” she added. “He’ll fill your head with fire and brimstone and leave no room for God’s love.”

Melanie nodded again and went back to counting the Vitamin bottles. It was easier now that nobody was talking to her, and she’d got all the way to two hundred and forty-seven when she heard Mummy’s name being called.

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Friday Fiction – Enlightenment

A quick post from me today as I’m short of battery and internet time. Today’s picture is from Dawn M Miller and as ever Rochelle leads our merry band of believers and non-believers. I would have liked to add another paragraph at the end of this story to wrap things up, but it was hard enough to get it down to 100 words as it was, so the rest will have to be up to your imagination. Again, I am unlikely to have much time to read and comment on others – if that offends you, feel free to skip mine. Otherwise, enjoy!

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Enlightenment

Dad reeked of Catholic guilt like a sour cologne; Mum was Anglican and sometimes I felt only their agreement on the sixth Commandment kept them alive.

I veered wildly between the fires of Hell and the glories of Heaven: persuaded that while both could not be completely right, the truth lay where their dogmas converged. Then I met a man from the Unitarian Church.

“There are as many paths to Heaven as there are doorways in the world,” he told me. “Faith is the light that guides us, not the lantern that holds it, nor the hand that carries it.”

 

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Inspiration Monday – Raise Heaven

Another Thursday, another prompt from BeKindRewrite. The muse was determined to come back to this one – raise heaven  – however much I tried to consider some of the others. Let me know how you think she did!

The Limits of Omniscience

My father never blasphemed. I mean, never. When we were small and shouty, he used to say “You’ll raise heaven with that racket”, because Hell was outside his vocabulary. I’m not sure what he thought would happen if he said it, or any of the other words he avoided. We used to discuss it as children. My brothers – all older than I – would goad me into expletives, then threaten eternal darn-nation or the wrath of GD.

It made church attendance in our family something of a pantomime too. My first boyfriend, Stephen Thompson, lasted from Thursday to Sunday, when an uncensored ‘Jesus’ during the first hymn saw him ousted from our family pew, never to darken my door again.

We knew, of course, that our family were extremists. We heard good Christian children at school using these words as though they had no magic power, and not once did I witness a spontaneous lightning strike in the playground. But knowing you’re in the minority isn’t the same as knowing you’re wrong.

When I was seven and she was five, Magda Thorpe, who was the oldest daughter of Reverend Thorpe, told me she prayed to Jesus and he talked back. In so many words: “Jesus”. I clapped a hand over her mouth and pushed her under a yew tree to protect her, but the only punishment was mine. And it was far from divine. Mrs Davis had me stand up in front of class and explain how I shouldn’t push people because it was bad. I couldn’t even explain why I’d pushed Magda, because I couldn’t say the word she’d said.

I believed I was saving Magda that day, and I trusted my father to have our best interests at heart, even when he drove away good prospects like Stephen Thompson.

Right until I turned eighteen. Since my father had always wanted me to be another boy, he insisted that I join in the same tradition my brothers had, and celebrate my birthday with a beer at the Rose and Crown. I sat across the table from him, the pint glass a few inches from the tabletop and heavy in my hand. One sip had told me I wouldn’t enjoy this initiation, but the look in his eye ensured I would weather it.

“Get it down you,” he said. “God knows you’ve waited long enough.”

The breath caught in my throat. The cool glass slipped from my hand and back onto the table with a bump. All my muscles seemed to be simultaneously tense and flaccid, like I’d gone into some unheard of form of medical shock.

All around me, I felt like the world should have stopped, but my father and his friends, even my brother sitting beside me, hadn’t reacted at all. They were talking about the latest football game and waiting for me to drink. One by one, they stopped talking and looked at me.

Then my father laughed and they all joined in. “The rules don’t apply in the Rose, my girl. God doesn’t dirty his feet in this little corner of the world.”

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Voice Week #5

In the final part of my Voice Week exercise, below is another possibility for the story which began as A Mother’s Legacy. You can see all the other versions of this story, and read about Voice Week as a project, on Monday-Thursday’s posts. Again, I’ve tried to break my own mold a bit with today’s version, going right outside they world I know.

If you’re looking for Friday Fiction, go to the next blogpost, Friday Fiction – The Rebellion. Either way, I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments about this piece, which started life from a Fictioneers’ prompt a few weeks ago.

Legacy

They came from us and so they must all eventually return. For we are All that is and ever shall be.

She walks bent; her human body no longer of value. She will shed it at the shore.

He still clings to his form and, in doing so, clings to hers. He senses, but does not understand. He knows that he must let her go, but wishes she could remain.

He leads her, tenderly, to the water’s edge.

She hesitates, clinging to the last tendrils of experience. For the All feels nothing, hears nothing, knows nothing. And yet, is everything.

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Friday Fiction – Breaking the backs of angels

It’s Friday again! this week has rushed by, and I can’t believe it’s already time for 100 words in response to Madison‘s prompt, this week photographed by Lora Mitchell.

I looked at this picture briefly yesterday and a few ideas came to me then, but this morning, one phrase came to mind and I felt I had to use it. Just for the record, the views of characters in this piece are not necessarily my own and it is not intended to be incendiary.

Breaking the backs of angels

“I’m praying for you,” she said, locking her eyes onto mine so that there could be no mistaking her vigour.

I thanked her. I don’t believe, but if it makes her feel better, what’s the harm? My brother doesn’t agree.

“There she goes again, breaking the backs of angels. How can people be so credulous?”

“Religion’s been around for millennia, Jacob; it’s still more popular than atheism, even in this information age.”

“Doesn’t stop it being wrong. If I were God, I’d come down here and tell them all to take charge of their own lives, instead of bothering me.”

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